Celtics

About last night: Warriors were down, but they're never out

usatsi_12719576_1.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

About last night: Warriors were down, but they're never out

WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT

Forsberg: Championship poise 

It’s a testament to how damn good the Golden State Warriors are that, even when they’re down 15 at halftime without Kevin Durant, you still sorta figure they’re going to win the game. 

Portland made them work, and the Curry Brothers showdown was fun to watch, but, man, the Warriors just have so much experience and it really showed in games like this. The way the Warriors locked down on defense late in the game is just a reminder of how they can impose their will whenever they feel like ratcheting it up.

We know the whole “series doesn’t start until the road team wins a game” theory but really feels like the Blazers let one get away and it might have been their only hope of making things interesting. 

Most teams would be in a tough spot if one of their stars was sidelined. Now we kinda want to see if the Warriors can win the whole thing without Kevin Durant. Would be a fitting end if Durant elects to take his talents to New York this summer.

BlakelyWarriors unleash their (Draymond) Green monster 

As much as we gush over Steph Curry’s long-range missile attack on a nightly basis when it comes to Golden State, Game 2 was a reminder of why Draymond Green remains the heart and soul of this basketball juggernaut. 

His ability to put his imprint on every facet of the game that mattered most, was a reminder of how this team began its run and how thus far this year, there’s no let-up in sight even with their best scorer, Kevin Durant (calf), likely to miss the entire series with Portland. 

Green’s near triple-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, also included him racking up five blocked shots which speaks to his statistical significance. But more than anything, he played with an infectious edge that helped propel the Warriors to the comeback win and a 2-0 series lead. So go ahead, ooh and ahh over Curry’s 37 points and four made 3’s or the steal by Andre Iguodala in the closing seconds.

But this victory was spearheaded by Green and his do-anything-to-win brand of basketball. 

SO... THAT HAPPENED


NUMBER OF NOTE

0/9 -- Combined shooting performance from C.J. McCollum (0/6) and Damian Lillard (0/3) over the final 7:40 of the game, as Golden State completed a comeback from a 15-point halftime deficit.

THEY SAID IT

"We can't sit and look over our shoulder and say, 'Hey, man, when is K going to be back?' We just got to play with whatever we got. We got to play and give him an opportunity to get back, and I think that's what really falls on our shoulders."
-- Draymond Green on Kevin Durant, who has already been ruled out of Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals

THURSDAY'S SCOREBOARD

  • Warriors 114, Trail Blazers 111 (GS leads series 2-0)

WHAT WE'LL BE WATCHING

Forsberg: I’ll tell you what we’re not watching 

It’s insane that the Bruins will be the third Boston team to play for a title in the past eight months. But it also sorta accentuates that the Celtics are the only one of the Boston big four not to play for a title this year. And, of all the teams, they might have had the most championship hype going into the year.

Brad Stevens always talks about how, with the Celtics, there’s always only one ultimate goal and the 17 banners hanging above the Garden are a reminder that anything less is ultimately coming up short. The successes of the other local squads won’t put any sort of pressure on the Celtics to make moves to put them in title contention — Danny Ainge and his staff will be seeking those sort of moves regardless — but with so much winning going on around them, it only further spotlights how disappointing the Green’s 2018-19 season was.

Blakely: The Kawhi Leonard conundrum 

The good news is everyone on the Toronto Raptors accepts the fact that Kawhi Leonard is their best scorer. The problem? When he goes to the bench, they seem to still be looking for him to score.

So the alternative in Game 1 was to play him 40-plus minutes, which totally blew up in the Raptors’ face in the fourth quarter when Leonard played nearly 10 minutes but did not make a single shot and scored just two points while finishing the night with 31. 

Too much Kawhi through quarters 1-3 is a recipe for disaster, but the Raptors don’t have much of a choice because their role players disappear when he heads to the bench while the Bucks’ backups start ballin’ out whenever Giannis Antetokounmpo needs a breather.

Toronto has to figure out a way to keep the ship steady when Leonard isn’t on the floor. Otherwise, this series will be yet another one in which the Bucks make quick work of their foe and move on to the next challenge, which for them at this point is a trip to the NBA Finals.  

FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE

  • Raptors at Bucks, Game 2 (MIL leads series 1-0) -- 8:30pm, TNT

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

A. Sherrod Blakely's inaugural 2019-20 NBA Power Rankings

nba_power_rankings_102219_spark.png
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

A. Sherrod Blakely's inaugural 2019-20 NBA Power Rankings

BOSTON -- The NBA season will get going this week and that can only mean one thing … POWER RANKINGS ARE BACK!!!

And as we look at the NBA landscape at the start of the 2019-2020 season, it’s clear that this season has a predictably unpredictable feel about it.

Teams that for years began the season at or near the top like Golden State, are no longer a top-five lock out of the gates. Others who have spent the bulk of the last four or five years in basketball purgatory, seem to have a new lease on their basketball lives and find themselves among the top half of the league rather than being a perennial bottom-feeder.

It all sets the tone for what should be an exciting NBA season!

And with that, here’s NBC Sports Boston’s inaugural power rankings.

Click here for Blakely's full 2019-20 NBA Power Rankings>>>

16 reasons why 2019-20 NBA season is shaping up to be the best ever

16 reasons why 2019-20 NBA season is shaping up to be the best ever

NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers starts at 6:30pm Wednesday with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call of the game at 7:30pm.

Unprecedented player movement. No clear-cut favorite to win the title. One of the most talked-about rookies in years. Superstar duos across the league.

As the 2019-20 NBA season tips off Wednesday night, there's no shortage of intriguing storylines to monitor.

Which team has the inside track on the 2020 title: Kawhi Leonard's Clippers? LeBron's Lakers? The Greek Freak and the Bucks? Harden-Westbrook 2.0? The new-look Sixers?

How will the Celtics fare now that Kyrie Irving is gone, presumably along with the team's chemistry issues? Will Zion Williamson somehow live up to the hype?

Those are just a few compelling topics that will garner headlines over the next eight months, and NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg will be monitoring all of them.

Click here for 16 reasons why the 2019-20 NBA will be the best ever.>>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.